[written January 11, 2003]
20020608: Got some more time to write after the long letter I wrote prior to this. Today was a long day. We got up and did a company run, which was considerably slower than our alpha group run. Alpha started at the back and by the end, after all the dropouts, we were near the front!
Then we went to the range for our final M16A2 qualification. After yesterday, I felt like I knew where to aim but I didn't feel confident going into my first attempt. I missed some in the foxhole but also missed everything in the prone. I was only 1 out of 4 people who didn't pass first try. Luckily, Hawke didn't pass either so I had company. We had two expert qualifications, Lopez and Jackson. We had a lot of sharpshooters too! Next attempt, I shot again next to Hawke. I hit the farthest target, 300m, but missed some easy ones. I hit more targets in the prone but honestly I felt lucky. I was nervous. When we finished, D.S. Eisch told us we both qualified! This after D.S. Eisch said, "You didn't learn a fucking thing, you idiot!" after my first run. So we did it! I was so relieved, beaming all over. Since we started BRM, I was worried about failing and being moved to another company. I want to stay in this platoon. These guys are my guys. I'm part of them. You feel lonely if you don't qualify while everyone else does. Anyway, I got a cool marksman badge. More importantly, 88% of our platoon qualified first time and 100% qual'd later so we got bragging rights plus the most expert shooters and a BRM banner on our flag. The company had 99% qual'd (only one female didn't do it) so the company got a BRM banner too. What more, the first sergeant inspected our common areas and gave us a 1st sergeant inspection banner (again). D.S. Eisch, who earlier disowned us, begrudgingly said we set a high standard today and earned serious bragging rights in the battalion! Even D.S. Conn complimented us!
So as a reward, tomorrow the Army gives us Free Day Away. We get 8 hours with no D.S.s and swimming, sports, and food. Phones too? I was relieved to qualify so I could join the platoon and go. We are allowed to eat all sorts of junk as long as we don't bring it back. More details later.
I scored 26/40, Hawke did 33/40, 2nd try. 20020609: I got 19/40, Hawke got 22/40 1st try.
I just tried to get a 10 minute phonecall as a reward for our good work yesterday but two females stayed on for 20 minutes and we lost our privileges with D.S. Russell. People always screw us over! My few minutes I did get, I left a message, called Mom's cell, and finally called someone from online. I figured Daniel wouldn't have been awake yet and I can't really call Anna with my phone card.
Sorry I couldn't go to Star Wars or Spiderman with you, Fred. I hope you're proud of me and less worried about my future. I'm taken care of for now. You mentioned me allowing myself to be conditioned as being like your returning to the ritual of religion. I don't think it's quite the same because I only feel like I'm making sacrifices for 9 weeks (possibly more @ AIT) and after that, things are pretty regular for the most part. You still have to live up to strict values but thos eare values all humans should have. With a religion, you're dealing with eternity, true spiritual and physical sacrifice, pertaining to life's pleasures. You don't sign a 5 year contract with God.
Mom, please keep writing. I enjoy reading your letters very much and miss doing stuff with you. I'm writing this on the bus to Free Day Away so that's why my handwriting got more sloppy than usual. It sounds like business as usual at the French Open. I hope Agassi won. Who are all those no-names? Everyone here eagerly awaited the latest Kings-Lakers updates. Someone falsely said the Kings won so we were all ecstatic. Then we found out the Lakers won. More expected result! I hear they're up 2-0 already against the Nets. Again, no surprise. I of course missed a classic series! Grr.
I'm still pissed about the phonecall. Some people ruin it for everyone with their selfishness. The D.S.s punish us by taking privileges away but guess who the only ones to get calls were? The rulebreakers. How exactly are good people supposed to stay motivated? We only get as much as bad people get away with. Army values my ass.
I got Anna's postcard. D.S. Conn picked it up (anything open is fair game) and started reading it while I stood there. "Hey Babe," he read. Luckily Anna didn't write anything scandalous because he just looked at the rest and handed it to me. Everyone was laughing at me!
I have photos of everyone on my locker now. Thanks for sending them. Everyone asks me why I don't look like Fred, and are always saying how hot Anna is. People say the house looks cool and Mom very sweet.
Much love, halfway there! Miss everyone lots. I treasure such luxuries now. [Later] Ate Milky Ways, Nerds, Sour Tarts, cookies, Mountain Dew (regular and Code Red), a nice meal. Played some kickball and basketball. Saw in paper that Venus lost to Serena. Wow! Next: grenades, rocket launchers, bayonet training, obstacle courses. Woo!
PS: We are sure to get smoked for today although we know not yet why. Can you say corrective training?